Skip to main content

Wisconsin Parent

Indoor Fun in Downtown Milwaukee

Feb 16, 2015 11:37AM ● Published by Julie Henning

Have you ever visited a "big" city on the weekend and the place is a ghost town? Like the quittin' bell rang at 5PM on a Friday and everyone flocked back home to suburbia?

Milwaukee certainly breaks this paradigm and it always makes me happy to see people out and about from the lakefront all the way up to the Marquette Interchange.

And while the "City of Festivals," really ramps up in the summer months, you'll find plenty of options for indoor fun in the heart of downtown.

Discovery World Website: http://www.discoveryworld.org/

Discovery World is ideal for families with kids in the elementary and middle school age bracket—the emphasis here is on science and technology and nearly everything is "hands on". In the summer months you might catch Wisconsin's flagship sailing vessel, the Dennis Sullivan moored in the harbor.

Milwaukee Art Museum Website: http://mam.org/

MAM

Located above the Quadracci Pavilion is Wingspan, the iconic bird-like sculpture that juts out over Lake Michigan. While the Quadracci Pavilion is currently open to the public, the original Milwaukee Art Museum and exhibits are undergoing a major transformation in time for a Fall 2015 renovation. While kids can still check out art packs and make art in the Kohl’s Art Generation Studio, you may want to plan your visit for a more comprehensive visit later this fall (that said, the museum is offering discounted admission in the interim and free admission for children age twelve and under).

Betty Brinn Children's Museum Website: http://www.bbcmkids.org/

Milwaukee Children's MuseumIf you have young children, the Betty Brinn Children's Museum is a no-brainier (all hands on and age-appropriate displays that encourage creativity and fine and gross motor skill development). Betty Brinn is located near Discovery World and the Milwaukee Art Museum—you could easily hit all three locations and stay in the same parking spot.

Milwaukee Public Market Website: http://www.milwaukeepublicmarket.org/main.html

VM_ThirdWard_HiRes_Jigsaw_0005Residents of downtown really needed an indoor public market and the Milwaukee Public Market is one of my all time favorites. Featuring vendors with a local connection, you'll find cheese, wine, fish, chocolate, coffee, flowers, gifts and more. People watching and meal eating are best accomplished in the second-story balcony overlooking the stalls below. Make sure to bring in your parking ticket and have it validated after you make a purchase anywhere in the market.

Milwaukee Public Museum Website: http://www.mpm.edu/

Public MuseumA popular elementary school field trip destination, the Milwaukee Public Museum is all about the "ology's" (zoology, anthropology, geology, historyology). Less hands on than Discovery World, highlights include planetarium shows and a walk through the tropical butterfly house on the second floor.

Safe House Website: http://www.safe-house.com/

Safe HouseThe Safe House is Milwaukee's 007 themed spy bar and restaurant. Finding the Safe House is half the experience; head down the side alley opposite The Pabst Theater on East Wells Street and look for the flags and awnings shown in this phot0. Chances are someone will ask you for "the password," and if you don't know it, get ready to leave your pride at the door. If you visit with kids, I suggest lunch or early dinner—leave time to explore all the nooks, crannies, and hidey holes. If you want to take the top-secret exit, bring a quarter and look for the old school pay phone.

Evolution Gastro Pong  Website: http://evolutionmke.com/

EvolutionAnother cool hangout spot in the Third Ward is Evolution Gastro Pong, where you can rent ping pong tables by the hour and play giant Jenga, pool, darts, and arcade games. Reservations are required for groups of ten or more (but also a good idea if you arrive closer to dinner time). While there isn't a kids' menu per se, you'll find cheese curds, corn dogs, and chicken tenders on the appetizers list.

Harley-Davidson Museum Website: http://www.harley-davidson.com/content/h-d/en_US/home/museum.html

kids_roadpacksA museum that pays tribute to Milwaukee's hog history, the Harley-Davidson Museum is located near the confluence of the Menomonee and Milwaukee Rivers. I recommend this experience for people who have a genuine interest in engineering, industry, history, and (well) motorcycles. Kids can participate in an indoor scavenger hunt and (if the weather is nice) play bean bag toss on the front lawn. This is not my first pick for families with active toddlers (but, hey, admission is free for anyone five and under).

Ghromann Museum Website: http://www.msoe.edu/community/about-msoe/grohmann-museum/page/1311/grohmann-museum

MSOE Museum NightThe Ghromann Museum building located on the MSOE campus is home to Man at Work, a collection of 1,000 paintings and sculptures representing the evolution of human work. I really think the rooftop sculpture garden offers some of the most spectacular views of downtown Milwaukee, but this is a fairly "boring" experience for younger kids—punch the top button on the elevator if the weather is nice (if not, skip this one for a nicer day).

More Suggestions

Julie Henning MilwaukeeIf you have hit all the downtown hotspots and want a few more suggestions before you leave town, I highly recommend the Urban Ecology Center (any of the locations are awesome, but my favorite Riverside Park). On Bohemian Brady Street you'll find Art Smart's Dart Mart and Juggling Emporium, a haven of juggling supplies, disc golf discs and gag gifts.

In the basement of the Oriental Theater you'll find Landmark Lanes and some of the best bowling in Milwaukee. In the direction of Madison, check out Palermo's Pizza and Miller Park (both offer tours). Or, hit the Pettit National Ice Center for skating or a few laps around the indoor track.

If nothing else strikes your fancy, see if you can navigate the maze of above-ground crosswalks weaving and winding through downtown. Start at the Shops of Grand Avenue and give your pedometer a workout.

For more information on planning your next trip to Milwaukee, consult VISIT Milwaukee for more ideas, information, and inspiration.

 

milwaukee visit milwaukee museums children's museums discovery centers downtown milwaukee
  • Tour de Marsh

    01/21/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/22/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • WIRED Double Days

    01/22/2018
    07:00AM — 09:00PM

    WIRED Study Club is for 7th-12th grade students. READ, STUDY or DO HOMEWORK @ The Open Door Coffe...


  • Krafty Kids

    01/22/2018
    05:30PM — 07:30PM

    Drop off your 4 year old or older child/children for a craft time while you play Volleyball for t...


  • The Joy Hour

    01/22/2018
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Want to make a change in your life but not sure how to make it last. Join us at The Joy Hour, wit...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/23/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Mom's Unite Evening Meet Up

    01/23/2018
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • David Geschke Speaker Series

    01/23/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    Four part speaker series based on chapters from my upcoming book "Feed Your Angel". Those who att...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/24/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Mom's Unite Morning Meet Up

    01/24/2018
    08:30AM — 09:30AM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • Annual Dinner

    01/24/2018
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    The Beaver Dam Chamber of Commerce cordially invites you to its Annual Dinner and recognition of ...


  • Krafty Kids

    01/24/2018
    05:30PM — 07:30PM

    Drop off your 4 year old or older child/children for a craft time while you play Volleyball for t...


  • Purpose Workshop

    01/24/2018
    06:30PM — 08:30PM

    Research shows that people who know their purpose and can clearly articulate it can add up to sev...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/25/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • FAMILY EVENT: Morning Play Date

    01/25/2018
    10:00AM — 11:00AM

    Spend the morning meeting new friends at DreamBank! While the kids enjoy interactive story time a...


  • Mom's Unite Active Play Meet Up

    01/25/2018
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • Books & Beer with author Kristin Oakley

    01/25/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    Join us as we talk with author Kristin Oakley about her novel "Carpe Diem, Illinois" and her writ...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/26/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • BDACT: With One Voice

    01/26/2018
    07:00PM

    Many Voices share Their Words about the Impact of Opioids on Dodge County Citizens. A partner pro...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/20/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Purpose Workshop

    01/20/2018
    09:00AM — 11:00AM

    Research shows that people who know their purpose and can clearly articulate it can add up to sev...


  • FAMILY EVENT: Music Lab with Julie Mazer

    01/20/2018
    09:30AM — 12:00PM

    Uncover your little one’s innate musicality with music-making activities using their voice, body ...


  • Dress up like Paul Bunyan and build yourself a log cabin! Eat a mighty meal fit for lumberjacks a...


  • Schedule: Each day, the tour actor/educators will rehearse with the students for three hours plus...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/21/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/22/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • WIRED Double Days

    01/22/2018
    07:00AM — 09:00PM

    WIRED Study Club is for 7th-12th grade students. READ, STUDY or DO HOMEWORK @ The Open Door Coffe...


  • Krafty Kids

    01/22/2018
    05:30PM — 07:30PM

    Drop off your 4 year old or older child/children for a craft time while you play Volleyball for t...


  • The Joy Hour

    01/22/2018
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Want to make a change in your life but not sure how to make it last. Join us at The Joy Hour, wit...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/23/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Mom's Unite Evening Meet Up

    01/23/2018
    06:00PM — 07:00PM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • David Geschke Speaker Series

    01/23/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    Four part speaker series based on chapters from my upcoming book "Feed Your Angel". Those who att...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/24/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Mom's Unite Morning Meet Up

    01/24/2018
    08:30AM — 09:30AM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • Annual Dinner

    01/24/2018
    05:00PM — 08:00PM

    The Beaver Dam Chamber of Commerce cordially invites you to its Annual Dinner and recognition of ...


  • Krafty Kids

    01/24/2018
    05:30PM — 07:30PM

    Drop off your 4 year old or older child/children for a craft time while you play Volleyball for t...


  • Purpose Workshop

    01/24/2018
    06:30PM — 08:30PM

    Research shows that people who know their purpose and can clearly articulate it can add up to sev...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/25/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • FAMILY EVENT: Morning Play Date

    01/25/2018
    10:00AM — 11:00AM

    Spend the morning meeting new friends at DreamBank! While the kids enjoy interactive story time a...


  • Mom's Unite Active Play Meet Up

    01/25/2018
    10:30AM — 11:30AM

    Join us for a Mom's Group! Bring your kids or bring yourself! The choice is yours! Our Mom's g...


  • Books & Beer with author Kristin Oakley

    01/25/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    Join us as we talk with author Kristin Oakley about her novel "Carpe Diem, Illinois" and her writ...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/26/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • BDACT: With One Voice

    01/26/2018
    07:00PM

    Many Voices share Their Words about the Impact of Opioids on Dodge County Citizens. A partner pro...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/27/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Start the New Year by promoting healthy habits for the whole family! Join staff from Happy Bambin...


  • Mine for gemstones and explore a lead mine inside the Museum! Join us for a tasting of yummy past...


  • BDACT: With One Voice

    01/27/2018
    07:00PM

    Many Voices share Their Words about the Impact of Opioids on Dodge County Citizens. A partner pro...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/28/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/29/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • WIRED Double Days

    01/29/2018
    07:00AM — 09:00PM

    WIRED Study Club is for 7th-12th grade students. READ, STUDY or DO HOMEWORK @ The Open Door Coffe...


  • Krafty Kids

    01/29/2018
    05:30PM — 07:30PM

    Drop off your 4 year old or older child/children for a craft time while you play Volleyball for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/30/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • David Geschke Speaker Series

    01/30/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    Four part speaker series based on chapters from my upcoming book "Feed Your Angel". Those who att...


  • Tour de Marsh

    01/31/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Krafty Kids

    01/31/2018
    05:30PM — 07:30PM

    Drop off your 4 year old or older child/children for a craft time while you play Volleyball for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    02/01/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    02/02/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Always a Bride - Never a Bridesmaid

    02/02/2018
    06:00PM — 08:00PM

    Inspired by Isaiah 54... Jennifer Thoreson will be putting on a wedding...for each of YOU. Come d...


  • Tour de Marsh

    02/03/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Saturday Science at Discovery

    02/03/2018
    10:00AM — 12:00PM

    Learn how math & science shape athletic performance at this free event held on the first Saturday...


  • Story Saturday

    02/03/2018
    11:00AM — 12:00PM

    The first Saturday of each month is Story Saturday at the Wisconsin Historical Museum! The FREE p...


  • Guys On Ice

    02/03/2018
    02:00PM — 09:00PM

    Wisconsin’s popular “Guys on Ice” musical featuring singing and dancing ice fisherman visits Beav...


  • "I am F.A.T." with author Jaia Davis

    02/03/2018
    02:30PM — 03:30PM

    Name calling hurts and bullying is painful. Local 10-year-old author Jaia Davis was inspired to w...


  • WHEN: Saturday, February 3, 2018 5:00 pm Social Hour 6:00 pm Dinner 6:45 pm Meeting WHERE...


  • Young Adult Game Night

    02/03/2018
    06:00PM — 09:00PM

    Introducing Young Adult Game Night! Looking for something to do on Saturday nights? Join us EVERY...


  • Tour de Marsh

    02/04/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Purpose Workshop

    02/04/2018
    10:30AM — 12:30PM

    Research shows that people who know their purpose and can clearly articulate it can add up to sev...


  • Tour de Marsh

    02/05/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • WIRED Double Days

    02/05/2018
    07:00AM — 09:00PM

    WIRED Study Club is for 7th-12th grade students. READ, STUDY or DO HOMEWORK @ The Open Door Coffe...


  • Tour de Marsh

    02/06/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • David Geschke Speaker Series

    02/06/2018
    07:00PM — 08:00PM

    Four part speaker series based on chapters from my upcoming book "Feed Your Angel". Those who att...


  • Tour de Marsh

    02/07/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Senior Movie Matinee

    02/07/2018
    01:00PM — 03:00PM

    Introducing something new for our WISER friends (60 yrs +)! Every 1st Wednesday of every month, w...


  • Tour de Marsh

    02/08/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Tour de Marsh

    02/09/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Have a Heart for Charity

    02/09/2018
    04:00PM — 07:30PM

    Please join us as we offer local artisans selling their wares to help fight sex trafficking. Sho...


  • The vocal group SPOTLIGHTS is back for their sophomore performance. This time they focus on song...


  • Tour de Marsh

    02/10/2018
    07:00AM — 10:00AM

    It is time to shake the cobwebs out of the Tour de Marsh kick-off ride and make it relevant for t...


  • Ventriloquist Darci Lynne

    02/10/2018
    07:00PM — 09:00PM

    On Saturday, February 10th Ventriloquist Darci Lynne brings her breathtaking, one of kind, family...


  • The vocal group SPOTLIGHTS is back for their sophomore performance. This time they focus on song...



Special Thanks to These Relaunch Partners


Woodman's Markets - Employee Owned
Greater Green Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau